News of the WeekNeurobiology

How the Brain Sees in Three Dimensions

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 500-501
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.500

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Most neuroscientists have thought that neurons sensitive to object distance are located in the so-called "where" processing stream, a set of brain areas that receive information from the primary visual cortex and use it to compute spatial relationships that, among other things, guide movements. But on page 552, researchers report finding brain neurons outside the "where" stream that register depth, as indicated by correlations between their firing rates and the absolute distances of objects. The work suggests that depth-sensing neurons are found throughout the visual cortex, their information combining with the two-dimensional map that already exists in each visual cortical area to provide the areas with full 3D maps of visual space.